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Despite substantial investments in numerous security products, organizations continue to be victims of successful malware attacks and data breaches. Today’s sophisticated threats have been engineered to discover and outsmart “advanced” malware detection tools like firewalls, IPS, and sandbox technologies. These technologies are unable to detect the wide range of evasion techniques described below. So-called “advanced” or “next-generation” sandboxes continue to rely on signatures and analyze files only at the application and operating system level, which makes it possible for malware to escape undetected.
For years, advanced malware detection has relied on sandboxes to block the delivery of malicious files. Sandboxes use virtual machine (VM) technology to analyze suspicious objects. Although VMs resemble a real host, they also insert artifacts into the VM environment for the virtualization to work. These artifacts include additional operating system files and processes, supplementary CPU features, and other components. Sophisticated malware can detect these artifacts, and alter its behavior in order to avoid detection.
Advanced malware avoids detection by sandboxes or other security controls by altering its behavior and adopting one or more evasion tactics, such as:
Another advancement criminals have made is malware that doesn’t reside in a file. What makes fileless malware detection so challenging is that these threats reside entirely in memory and remain hidden from most advanced malware detection tools. The most sophisticated versions of fileless malware also are able to completely disappear after reaching their objectives. By operating in such a way that nothing is ever written to disk, and then wiping themselves from memory when done, this ultra-evasive type of malware is extremely difficult to detect.
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